4 Water Workouts For A Speedo-Friendly Body

Swim your way to toned, lean and marine so others BEG you to put your swimsuit on.

Swimming is an underused form of exercise, and if your gym fee includes pool access, might as well use it, right? I know, I know, it can be kind of intimidating. Strokes, technique, equipment, etiquette, time and intensity - swimming has its own set of rules and strategies.

But all that seems trivial when you think about a swimmer's body, hot dang! They're lean, toned, strong and graceful. This is a body type many people aim for. Not thin, not bulky, but a little bit of everything rolled into one fit package. Plus, it's one of the best forms of cardio you can find - your entire body is doing resistance training when submerged.

So why not dive headfirst into the water and come out with a hotter body? You don't need much to get going, and I'll give you all the information you need to start today!

The Swim Kit

You wear certain clothes and use specific equipment when you weight train or run, and the same goes for swimming:

1. Goggles

Pool chlorine can really sting, and you don't want people thinking you have pink eye just because you swim. Plus, they look sweet! Prices range from $10 to $25.

2. Swimwear

I like a tight-fitting Speedo, but if you're more conservative, normal trunks are fine. For women, a dedicated swimsuit will perform better than a bikini, but it's up to you. Prices vary significantly for swimwear, so find one at the right price!

3. Kickboard

Most pools have these available, but you can buy your own for around $10. We'll use a kickboard to isolate your lower body.

In time, people may mistake you for one outrageously fit mermaid,
or merman, for that matter.

4. Pull Buoy or Floating Dumbbell

Fitness gyms with a pool usually have these in-house, but you can get either for $8. You'll use one of these to isolate your upper body.

5. Flippers (optional)

It's hit or miss when it comes to pools having these for free use. Get ready to buy your own, and plan on spending $10 to $20.

6. Waterproof Watch (optional)

This is great for checking your time while you swim. You don't need anything fancy, and you can find a good one with a stopwatch for $10 to $20.

7. Life Jacket or Swim belt

Many gyms with pools will have these available, but they cost around $20 each to purchase. You can use these for your cool-down swim.

8. Swim Cap (optional)

Hair can definitely be annoying in the pool. Caps cost around $6.

Pool Etiquette

Ever had somebody take your bench or machine in the gym? It's infuriating; disrespectful swimmers in the pool will make you want to drown them. Follow these rules and save a life.

1. Pick a lane that matches your swim speed

You don't want to slow anyone down or be slowed down, so find a lane that matches your swimming speed for a smooth ride.

2. Always ask or let a swimmer know if you want to share a lane

It isn't cool to invade someone else's space in the pool, but when the pool is packed, swimmers have to share lanes. Usually the maximum amount of swimmers in a lane is three. And don't share a lane if there's only one other person in the entire pool, that's just creepy.

3. When sharing a lane, ask how you want to share it

You can either swim in circular fashion like on a racetrack, or split the lane right down the middle and stay on your side. Make sure you and your lane partner are on the same page!

Everything looks fine now, but a head-to-head collision
is just waiting to happen.

4. Be mindful of other swimmers in your lane

If you need to rest or are about to be passed, stop at one end of the pool, not the middle. Make sure you know where the other swimmer is at all times during your swim for safety purposes.

5. Minimize the chitchat

It ticks me off in the gym when someone offers me his life story, and it's even worse in the pool. People have places to be, workouts to do, and maybe even people to kill. Shut up and swim.

Hitting the Target

Swim training intensity largely depends on one variable, your heart rate. It's like taking your pulse, and it is measured in beats per minute (BPM). To get you leaned out, we want to stay in the sweet spot of heart rates. How do we figure this out?

  1. First, we need your maximum heart rate (MHR). To find your MHR, subtract your age from 220.
  2. Multiply your MHR by .85 to get your maximum target heart rate (MaxTHR).
  3. Multiply your MHR by .75 to get your median target heart rate (MedTHR).
  4. Multiply your MHR by .65 to get your minimum target heart rate (MinTHR).

Your swimming will require you to hit the last three variables during different parts of your workout in order to promote the best cardiovascular workout and calorie-burn. You don't want to go above your MaxTHR (that's working too hard) or below your MinTHR (not working hard enough).

Your workout is designed to allow you to periodically check your heart rate during rest periods in your workout.

To find your current heart rate, place 2 fingers on your carotid artery and count your pulse for 30 seconds. Multiply this number by 2 to arrive at your current heart rate.

Swim Technique

You didn't think I was going to throw you to the sharks, did you? Yes, technique is incredibly important for swimming, and we aren't doing the doggy paddle here. For swimming stroke technique and practice tips, check out these great links:

Let's Get Wet!

This workout is designed with variable resistance training to help you tone your muscles, shed fat, and increase swimming performance and endurance as well as cardiovascular strength.

You will swim using multiple full-body and isolation strokes, 3 different intensities, various distances, and rest differentiation.

Workout #1: Upper Body Workout

Note: Check your heart rate while resting for 30 seconds after completing each exercise to make sure your current heart rate matches your target heart rate for the circuit you are in.

Workout #2: Lower Body Workout (Flippers optional)

Note: Check your heart rate while resting for 30 seconds after completing each exercise to make sure your current heart rate matches your target heart rate for the circuit you are in.

Workout #3: Stroke Workout

Note: Check your heart rate while resting for 30 seconds after completing each exercise to make sure your current heart rate matches your target heart rate for the circuit you are in.

Stroke Swim Circuit@ 60% of your MHR (MinTHR)

Stroke Swim Circuit@ 75% of your MHR (MedTHR)

Stroke Swim Circuit@ 85% of your MHR (MaxTHR)

Workout #4: Swim a Mile

Note: This mile-long swim should be done with little to no rest, so you should take care to stay within your target heart rate range, and keep your heart rate checks minimized.

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About The Author

C.J. Sower is a local health nut with an addiction to life and fitness. It's this enthusiasm that keeps his head up and training hard...

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I believe the target heart rate is based on a false conclusion the workout community drew from the way that cardio was first studied. Early studies showed that 20 min a day of cardio in the aerobic heart range increased health, so for decades, that's what people did for cardio. Cardio was even called aerobics. It turns out, a lack of a target is more effective. HIIT can take people to levels of fitness that aerobic training cannot. As a species of hunter gatherers, we are built for high intensity intervals of activity.

Dec 19, 2011 8:13am | report

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As a collegiate swimmer, I can honestly say that these workouts are not only the most boring swim workouts ever, but it is highly unlikely that an untrained swimmer can even swim a 200 butterfly. All this is going to do is get an athlete to the point where shoulder problems are going to come into play. Start off with 25's of fly and build your way up. Also, if you are going max interval training and want to work on your heart rate while going for the "sprinter" body like most people are going for on this website, you will not want to do yardage as much as shorter bursts of speed such as 50's or 100's all out with lots of rest. I know that this is a website that if filled with people who know nothing about the sport of swimming or how to train for swimming, but it's not hard to look and find a swimmer to make up the sets.

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Jul 17, 2012 9:42am | report

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In the average pool that most people will swim in a mile is 1650SCY not 1500. It is only 1500LCM

May 26, 2013 11:24pm | report
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